Harley Davidson Men's FXRG Perforated Leather Jacket

Product Review

Crusty cynics will probably be surprised to discover there's more to Harley-Davidson apparel than black dealer T shirts and fringed leather. Beyond the concho-encrusted items in the MotorClothes catalog lays a cluster of functional riding gear - the FXRG collection. Harley says this gear is actually designed for durability, comfort and performance - you know, real-world riding.

My most recent experience with the stuff came on a three day rumble through 90-degree temps wearing the FXRG Perforated Leather jacket. To my surprise I came out feeling comfy, well-protected, and looking good. Well, mostly, anyway.

The FXRG Perf jacket is obviously built for warm weather scenarios; the aforementioned perforations that allow fresh air into your heated interior give it away. Arrayed in a diamond-plate pattern, the large-diameter perforations cover nearly 70% of the jacket's surface area so there's plenty of cooling action to be had. What's more, (according to Harley) that outer hide is formulated to deflect up to 80 percent of sunlight - a neat trick for a black leather anything.

In my case, the jacket worked as advertised; if nothing else, my pools of sweat were kept to a minimum. But whether it was because of the lessened intensity of the sun's rays or the multitude of perforations, I can't say. What I can say is that you have to be going over 35mph to really generate any noticeable cooling effect.

What drew me to the FXRG Perf initially was the quality of the leather. It's soft and fairly supple for its heft, and more comfortable than it looks. A mesh backing reinforces the leather, adding durability and abrasion resistance, while a fixed CoolMax lining helps wick away internal moisture to keep things dry.

Like I said, the leather is pliable without being overly soft, but stylistically, the FXRG Perf falls somewhere between a 1980's hair band's garb and Star Trek costume castoffs (the Shatner era). Hence the Perf's semi-tailored fit; it's not tight but not baggy, with a nonrestrictive feel. Pre-curved sleeves with zipper cuffs and an action back make on-bike comfort fine for most torsos, though the snap waist tabs offer little adjustability and the jacket's snugness can become binding at the lower hem. Or maybe it's just my short torso... The mandarin collar also gets dinged for the fact that it's nonadjustable (though it does have a soft lining).

The included removable liner buffered with Gore-Tex Windstopper fabric is a nice bonus though; it really does block gusts from sneaking in, diminishing some of the chill you can encounter at speed. Just realize that it's not an insulated, warming layer. Removable, CE-approved lightweight body armor stuffed into elbows, shoulders, and back offer actual protection in the event of a get-off. The removable kidney belt, a signature feature found on all FXRG jackets, also gets a thumbs up.

Other than that, you'll find the standard amenities - two zippered hand-warmer pockets, as well as an interior storage system with two zipper pockets, a cargo pocket, cellphone pocket, and eyewear pocket with lens wipe. Scotchlite Reflective material details the outer seams for nighttime conspicuity, while the H-D branding stays unobtrusive: a familiar FXRG badge on the chest, with subtle graphics along the upper back. With a 5-year warranty, the Perf Jacket retails from between $625 and $645.

In sum, the FXRG Perforated Leather jacket is a stout piece of functional gear that delivers on its promise of making warm weather rides more tolerable without skimping on safety. I just wish it looked cooler...

2.5 (of 5) Stars

See www.harley-davidson.com for more info.